In his afterward of the first issue of Elephantmen, writer Richard Starkings talks about how he thinks it is a shame that writers don't try utterly outrageous ideas anymore, choosing instead to stay away from "goofy" ideas that they fear that people will not be willing to believe in. I mentioned something similar in a bit awhile ago, where I agreed that self-consciousness when it comes to writing "goofy" characters is a problem. In Elephantmen #1, Starkings embraces the goofiness of his concept wholeheartedly, and gives us a book we can believe, and along with some amazing artwork by Moritat, the result is a good comic book.
The inside front cover gives us a nice intro into the Hip Flask universe, by way of a long quote by George W. Bush, which is contrasted beautifually by a "quote" from a future doctor. Great introduction.
The main story in the issue details a little girl who comes across an Elephantman and the two talk, and as she asks him the questions little children, free of things like tact, ask, we flashback to see his past. It is a great immersion into the Hip Flask universe while still giving us a compelling story.
Ladronn is not working on this comic (although he is still working on the main Hip Flask title) outside of the covers, but surprisingly, with the also one-named Moritat, the book doesn't lose a step. Moritat does an amazing job, especially on the little girl. He infuses so much emotion and characterization into just her facial gestures, it is remarkable.
He is still able to handle the bloody, gritty flashbacks, as well.
Starkings' story is hearted in characterization, while giving us the recap we will need going forward, of this world where animals were experimented on until becoming basically, well, animal-men, used as deadly soldiers, then "freed" into working and living in the city along with everyone else.
The closing page is SO sappy, yet so clever and well-struck. A great job by Starkings.
Starkings and Moritat combine for a nice little short story (flip book) of how a "normal Joe" deals with the animal men living amongst humans. It is sad, but honest.
All together, with Moritat's great art and Starkings' humanisitic storytelling, I can freely recommend The Elephantmen #1 without reservation.
Thanks to the kind folks at Image Comics for the review copy.